Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats

ALEXANDER VOK HGHBOLDT                233
her way "back to her home by land. But her mater-
nal heart longed for those children, who had accom-
panied the father on the day she was carried off. In
despair she, with her children, made several attempts
at flight, but was overtaken, mercilessly whipped, and,
at last, separated from her two infants. She was
taken up the river Atabo into the missions of Rio
Negro. Loosely bound, and not "knowing what fate
awaited her, she sat in the forepart of the vessel.
She* succeeded in breaking her bonds, sprang into the
water, and swam towards the left shore: the current
drove her against a rock where she hid among tibe
bushes. But the missionary landed his Indian ser-
vants, the miserable woman was brought back, cruelly
scourged, her hands bound fast behind her back, and
thus she was dragged to the Christian mission of
Gavita. It was the rainy season, and the nights
were dark; on account of the impassability of the
forests, the rivers are the only means of communi-
cation between village and village. Maternal love
urged the chained woman to attempt the apparently
impossible, for she felt but the one desire to liberate
her children, and take them back to the others at
She was unmatched—as her arms were bleeding,
the Indian servants of the Christian missionary had
from pity, secretly loosened her thongs; with her
teeth she separated them entirely. The next morning
she had disappeared, and was seen four days after,
near San Fernando, where her children were im-
prisoned in the mission. She had passed through the
woods at a season when the sky is always covered
with clouds, and the rivers overflowing ; she had often
been obliged to swim, often to make her way, bleeding,
through the prickly bushes, and had lived only on
large black ants. The Christian missionary rewarded
her unheard of courage by imprisoning her in a
mission on the Orinocco, where, despairing of seeing
her beloved children again, she refused ail food, and